Staunton, May 10 – Many events in the future are not predictable, but one is certain: Once restrictions on personal car travel are lifted at the end of the pandemic, Moscow will turn into one gigantic traffic jam because almost all the cars will try to go on the roads at once and there simply aren’t enough paved streets and highways for them to use, Mikhail Blinkin says.
The director of the Institute on the Economics of Transportation and Transportation Policy at the Higher School of Economics points out that there are between five and 7.7 million cars in the Russian capital but only aboout5 100 million square meters of paved streets (iq.hse.ru/news/363062491.html).
That means there are approximately 20 square meters – and area roughly 10 feet by 18 feet – for every car. Prior to the pandemic, only about 3.6 million cars were on the streets at any one time; but after the coronavirus passes, the number will surge and the amount of space available for them will not. The result? An unprecedented traffic jam, Blinkin says.
This problem has arisen, he continues, because Russians acquired cars and shifted away from public transport only recently, and there are simply not enough paved streets and highways for the exploding number of cars. The US suffered this problem about 50 years ago, Blinkin says; but it has built more streets and highways since that time.
As a result, approximately a third of the area of cities in the US is covered by paved roads. In Europe, the figure is 25 percent, but in Moscow, only nine percent – and many of these are pedestrian only thoroughfares. There are only two ways out: building more streets or getting people to stop using their cars.
Neither is easy and neither is going to happen before the pandemic ends and the traffic jam begins, the transportation expert says.